Stephen Koranda

Statehouse Reporter

Stephen Koranda reports on the Kansas Legislature, state government and everything else for Kansas Public Radio. He previously worked in Mississippi and Iowa, where he covered stories ranging from hurricanes to state executions. 

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The Kansas secretary of corrections calls staffing shortages at a state prison an emergency.

Worker shortages are a persistent problem the state prison system. Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz said it’s especially bad at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, where staff already work long shifts. The prison holds about 1,700 inmates and currently has about 85 unfilled jobs.

Republican leaders in the Kansas Senate are forging ahead with plans to plow millions into tax relief that would largely benefit big business. Some Democrats and more moderate Republicans suspect it’s also a strategy to deprive the governor of the money to fund her priorities.

Carving out chunks of the state savings account now could send lawmakers scrambling to fund schools and other services with the cash that’s left when they’re knitting up the budget later this spring.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers have rejected proposals to legalize medical cannabis in recent years. With a new governor in office, a bipartisan group of legislators is hoping this year could be different.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

School administrators from across Kansas lined up Wednesday in support of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s proposal to boost funding for schools in response to a state Supreme Court ruling.

The bill would add more than $350 million in spending over four years. That’s on top of a funding boost last year.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas senators say the state should make a missed payment to the pension system, but some lawmakers are concerned about spending the money before they’ve finished the state budget.

Former Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach rewrote the rules for voting in Kansas. Laws he pushed for required voters to show citizenship papers to register and ID at the polls. He secured prosecutorial powers for his office. 

Kobach’s term only ended a couple weeks ago, but some cornerstones of his legacy are already starting to crumble.

Stephen Koranda

A Kansas Senate committee brushed aside concerns about the cost of a tax relief bill Thursday and advanced it as a way to keep Kansas attractive to businesses.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A judge has ruled Johnson County election officials must turn over a list of voters whose ballots were marked as provisional or rejected because their signature didn’t match voter records.

The ACLU sued on behalf of Davis Hammet of the voter advocacy group Loud Light. Johnson County election workers denied his request for the list of voters after the closely contested primaries last year.

Hammet said making the lists public will help advocacy groups like his ensure every vote is counted.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service/File photo

A proposed constitutional amendment introduced this week would effectively ban all abortions in Kansas by declaring that life begins at fertilization.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Kansas senators are studying what it would take to send a so-called “windfall” back to state taxpayers. The price tag could hit $400 million over three years.

The federal tax cut of 2017 will have some Kansans paying more in state taxes.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle is in a hurry to pass legislation that would apply to tax returns being filed now.

“If we don’t pass this bill, backdate this bill, Kansas individuals, families and businesses will all have a tax increase this year,” Wagle says.